Special Envoy of the United Nations Secretary-General on Road Safety, Ambassador Jean Todt, has paid a courtesy call on His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio, updated on his work and called for collaboration on the campaign to address road accidents.

First Lady Fatima Maada Bio, while introducing the Special Envoy, said he was in the country on a special mission to engage different stakeholders, including young people on the importance of road safety in Sierra Leone.

She recalled that while in Turkey, she was appointed to serve as the champion of road safety. She revealed at that moment she recommended a state visit by Ambassador Todt to Sierra Leone to help with the discussion on road safety.

The First Lady also noted that Ambassador Todt’s presence in the country was significant because he would assist in piloting the country’s road safety efforts as a result of the series of meetings he had had on road safety.

The United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Road Safety, Amb. Jean Todt, thanked President Bio for the warm hospitality, revealing that he had to tour African countries to engage stakeholders for their commitment and participation in engaging a wider public on road safety.

He informed the President that annually about 1.2 million people die from road safety issues, while between 20 and 40 million suffer non-fatal injuries as a result of road accidents. He said almost all road accidents were preventable if only drivers and road users respected speed limits, could drive without drinking, and could drive without using a phone, among others.

According to Ambassador Todt, more people die as a result of road accidents every year, and that Africa was the most vulnerable continent in terms of road accidents. He outlined that the continent needed committed leaders to put their issues on the UN agenda for action, adding that the work to prevent road accidents could be championed by strong leaders who were committed to speaking about road accidents on all platforms.

He noted that they were happy for the First Lady’s initiative on advocacy around road safety issues, which was very important in the campaign on road safety and called on President Bio and other African heads of state to join them in speaking loudly about road safety on the continent.

In his remarks, President Julius Maada Bio welcomed Ambassador Jean Todt to Sierra Leone, thanked him for coming at such an important time and emphasised on how delighted he was on behalf of the government and the people of Sierra Leone to receive him to discuss a very important issue.

The president said Sierra Leone and Africa in general were on the high side when it came to road accidents. He expressed optimism that the ambassador was expected to engage with stakeholders in the sector as well as members of the public on the importance of road safety.

President Bio said pedestrians walking on the streets were vulnerable to accidents and that they could be victims of road accidents at any point in time, either as a result of reckless driving, carelessness, drinking while driving, or even by merely playing with their phones.

The President said the dealing with the issue of road safety must be a concerted effort by all. He thanked Ambassador Jean Todt for using his capacity to advocate for global issues and promised to engage his colleague heads of state to continue the conversation at the ECOWAS and AU levels.